COVID-19 has rapidly remade the world in which marketers work. It’s a radical and immediate transformation. Almost 90 percent of Australian organisations have encouraged their staff to work from home according to Gartner.
But that is only the start. Both B2B and B2C marketers now have to contend with a huge shift in consumer behaviour. Consumers are limited in what they can buy, and many retail brands have either shifted online entirely gone into hibernation, or closed.
In the B2B space traditional field marketing, events, conferences, and even education have digitised overnight.
As a result of COVID-19 the world is going online and is unlikely to ever return to exactly the way it was before.
The imperative for marketers to educate themselves on digital marketing has never been more urgent or more immediate.
New Ways of Working
Such has been the rapid transformation in almost every aspect of society over recent weeks that the business challenges of the start of 2020 are now far back in the rear-view mirror. Almost every activity we took for granted in February — from going to work, to shopping, hanging out with friends, or going to the gym — has been transformed, as physical distancing and other restrictions have changed our lives.
That means businesses have to think very differently about how they connect and engage with customers.
Bricks and mortar stores have been in decline for some time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pressed the accelerator pedal heavily. While some closures are temporary — at least the proprietors hope so — some have pulled the pin. Brands like Tigerlily, and Kikki K have been forced into administration, with many others reducing their retail footprint significantly. But there is also a sector adapting to this new world.
Engage Customers, Enable Transactions
The entire sales cycle is being disrupted by the lockdown. More than ever before, a well-designed and executed digital marketing plan is critical to both engage customers and enable transactions. Consumers are being pushed towards online channels — either through social responsibility to avoid catching or unwittingly spreading coronavirus, or because the items they want aren’t available in physical stores.
Even previously reticent online shoppers are being driven to virtual shopfronts as they limit their exposure to coronavirus and order online with door-to-door delivery.
Household budgets are being crunched, as many people find themselves out of work and without an income. Even though the government has been quick to react with a number of new financial benefits, there is a lag time before people receive them, leaving them cash-strapped but still needing to purchase items.
That's creating a myriad of novel challenges for businesses. Suddenly, they have to find new ways to reach and engage customers, optimise online shopping experiences, and change their distribution channels as more orders are fulfilled online and delivered rather than chosen and collected in a store. Staying in business without adopting a robust online presence is not an option. In Darwinian terms, it’s time to adapt or face a dire future.
For businesses, this means change — a lot of change — in a very short time. Firms need to develop products or services and adapt what they're doing to meet their customers where they are today — not where they were in February.
Consumers have Changed
Research from Nielsen has found shoppers are buying different things during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health and wellness products, protective gear like masks, and hand sanitiser are all up, with customers buying larger quantities of household staples in order to minimise the number of trips they have to make out of the safety of their homes.
Many businesses have a significant head start. They have invested in digital strategies and developed excellent online customer experiences. Their door-to-door logistics, while strained by increased delivery volumes, are in place. And they have the customer service channels ready, with virtualised contact centres to deal with customer inquiries. But others will be at a lower level of readiness for this rapid transition.
Marketing teams in businesses will need to adapt. That will mean upskilling in some areas and taking advantage of virtual classroom courses such as ADMA’s Digital Marketing Certificate. The course will teach you to create digital marketing strategies and build an online platform that is capable of offering a competitive user experience so you can entice, impress and retain customers. That can help you not only catch up, but leapfrog competition that might be ahead of you today.
The skills you acquire won’t just tide you over during the coronavirus crisis. They will prepare you for the new normal.
We can expect the coming months to change consumer behaviour. While the products people purchase once the pandemic subsides might change, new shopping habits and expectations are being created. For marketers, the skills they acquire today will be invaluable as we adjust to that new post-COVID era.
And they’ll better equip marketers to support their businesses through other disruptions that will occur in future. It might not be another pandemic, but the development of new products and services (Tesla and the car industry), new methods of service delivery (Uber and AirBnB), or new ways of engaging with and understanding customer behaviour (Amazon) are a fact of life. If anything, disruption has been normal for well over a decade.
Updating your marketing skills so you’re ready for whatever comes next is critical — not just to survive the COVID-19 pandemic but to thrive in the months and years ahead. Consumer behaviour will be permanently changed by the lockdown. Simply expecting to resume your old business as usual once things settle down is a recipe for disaster. The changes you make today will help you be ready for whatever comes next.
The ADMA Digital Marketing Certificate is online in live virtual classrooms starting 21st April. Enrol now and receive 20% off the entire course. Prepare yourself and your team for a massive (and permanent) digital shift in the world.
Coronavirus impact on Australian economy short-term and long-term
- More Australians are worried about a recession and an increasingly selfish society than about coronavirus itself — https://theconversation.com/more-australians-are-worried-about-a-recession-and-an-increasingly-selfish-society-than-about-coronavirus-itself-135297
- The coronavirus pandemic: Exposing the faultlines of unfettered globalisation — https://lens.monash.edu/@coronavirus-articles/2020/03/06/1379781/the-coronavirus-pandemic-exposing-the-fault-lines-of-unfettered-globalisation
- Over 60 per cent of Australian businesses affected by COVID-19 coronavirus, up from only 15 per cent in mid-February — http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8328-impact-of-coronavirus-march-2020-202003160441
- Eight ways Retail will shift after COVID-19 https://www.smartcompany.com.au/coronavirus/the-eight-ways-retail-will-shift-after-covid-19/
- This crisis is different: E-commerce, coronavirus and the looming recession https://theblog.adobe.com/how-covid-19-is-impacting-online-shopping-behavior/
- Coronavirus and the marketing industry: what happens next? https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2020/03/20/coronavirus-and-the-marketing-industry-what-happens-next
- Coronavirus sees Australians change shopping habits as retailers worry about downturn https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-18/coronavirus-forces-australians-to-change-retail-shopping-habits/12066978
- Stats roundup: coronavirus impact on marketing, ecommerce & advertising https://econsultancy.com/stats-roundup-coronavirus-impact-on-marketing-advertising/
- Whatever it takes — https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/covid-19/articles/whatever-it-takes.html
- Now and next: Supply chain resilience measures for coronavirus — https://www.digitalpulse.pwc.com.au/supply-chain-coronavirus-covid-19/
- The possible economic consequences of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — https://www.pwc.com.au/publications/australia-matters/economic-consequences-coronavirus-COVID-19-pandemic.pdf